Scientific name Molinia caerulea – Calluna vulgaris – Erica tetralix heath
Common name Purple Moor-grass – Heather – Cross-leaved Heath heath
Community code HE4E

 

HE4E: Molinia caerulea – Calluna vulgaris – Erica tetralix heath     HE4E: Molinia caerulea – Calluna vulgaris – Erica tetralix heath     HE4E map: Molinia caerulea – Calluna vulgaris – Erica tetralix heath

Download full pdf synopsis: HE4E

 

Vegetation

Molinia caerulea dominates this community but is accompanied by a reasonably well-developed dwarf shrub layer composed of Calluna vulgaris and Erica tetralix. Potentilla erecta, a plant common to most upland heaths and bogs, is again to be found here, and indeed is the only other constant species. Frequently, there are some patches of Trichophorum cespitosum/germanicum or Eriophorum angustifolium amongst the Molinia tussocks, and the blue flowers of Polygala serpyllifolia may be spotted. Occasionally there is some Narthecium ossifragum and Carex panicea. The bryophyte layer is not very abundant with Hypnum jutlandicum the most frequent component, frequently joined by Sphagnum capillifolium and Sphagnum subnitens.

 

Ecology

This community occurs on the lower to middle slopes of hills and mountains on wet, acidic and infertile peaty soils.

 

Sub-communities

Two sub-communities have been described for this community. Somewhat flushed vegetation is represented by the Sphagnum subnitens – Myrica gale sub-community (HE4Ei). In addition to the titular species, Sphagnum palustre is frequent in this situation. The non-flushed variation has no specific indicators and is thus referred to as the typical sub-community (HE4Eii).

 

Similar communities

Community HE2D Calluna vulgaris – Molinia caerulea – Erica cinerea heath is similar, but in that assemblage Calluna dominates and there is a greater presence of both Erica cinerea and pleurocarpous mosses.

 

Conservation value

This is a moderately species-poor heath community. Most examples may qualify as EU HD Annex I habitat 4010 Wet heath.

 

Management

This community, which often forms parts of commonages, is usually used as rough grazing land (typically for sheep); overgrazing may be a problem. Burning may be periodically used across large areas to suppress the dwarf shrubs and encourage grass growth. Other threats are afforestation and agricultural improvement.